By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
The Reeths-Puffer boys came into Friday night’s game versus O-K Black rival Mona Shores (5-5, 1-2) facing a lot of obstacles.
First off, as is usually the case, the Rockets were severely undersized – their biggest player, Marquis Livers, stands 6-foot-1.
Then there are the narrow losses Reeths-Puffer (4-6, 1-2) has suffered this season – including a two-point loss to Western Michigan Christian and a four-point loss to Grand Rapids Creston – a situation that often demoralizes lesser squads.
And yet, playing through so many difficulties has equipped the Rockets with toughness, and toughness is exactly what they needed Friday night against Shores, which resulted in a 54-46 victory over the Sailors.
“It’s always tough to go on the road and get a win in this conference,” said first-year Reeths-Puffer head coach David Ingles. “We made a couple big shots tonight, and we got some stops, so our confidence was good. That’s a good combination for us. We’re coming along.
After an even 7-7 start, Livers came alive in the block, scoring six points in the second to give – with the help of teammate Andrew Reinecke, who hit two three-balls in the frame – the Rockets the 27-23 lead at the break.
Despite the height advantage, the Sailors struggled to match the hot Rocket shooting and the energy the Rockets had on the offensive boards. Livers and Mona Shores’ Marcus Tumblin battled all night under the glass, and a couple of times the pair looked as though they might come to blows. Tumblin was charged a technical foul in the fourth after fouling Livers as the latter was attempting a fast break dunk, though Livers jumped up quickly to let Tumblin how much he appreciated it. That kind of physicality helped underscore the Rocket’s gritty performance, especially on the defensive end.
“I thought our defense was really good,” said Ingles. “That’s two games in a row now that we’ve held teams in the 40s, which always our goal. If we are going to win, it is going to be on the defensive end. The offense is going to come
The Rocket lead stood at seven after three, and ballooned to 13 at one point in the fourth, and the Sailors couldn’t get closer than seven points the rest of the night. Reinecke helped seal the deal, going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final frame.
Livers led all scorers with 16, while adding a game-high 10 boards, while Reinecke added 15 points and Jalen Benton and Kevin Polked had five steals and four assists, respecitively, in the win.
Logan Haugh paced the Sailors with 12 points, and Tumblin had 10 points, with Adreon Billips finished with nine rebounds and five assists.
Dede Black 2 1-2 5, Kevin Polk 2 0-0 5, Jenen Benton 4 1-2 9, Quinzell Pannell 1 2-4 2, Marquese Livers 8 0-5 16, Andrew Reinecke 3 6-6 15. Totals 20 10-19 54.
Logan Haugh 5 2-4 12, Adam Rayner 3 0-0 6, Marcus Tumblin 4 1-4 10, Cam Matthews 2 0-0 4, Kobe Burse 1 0-0 2, Adreon Billips 3 0-2 6. Totals 17 3-10 46.
Mona Shores 11-12-4-17-46
Three-point field goals: Tumblin, Polk, Reinecke (3). Total fouls: Mona Shore 17, Reeths-Puffer 14. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: Tumblin.